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Hold the Phone! High School Students’ Perceptions on Mobile Phone Integration (Paper table 4)

[Listen and learn : Research paper]

Monday, June 27, 4:15–5:15 pm
CCC 109, Table 4

favoritesDr. Kevin Thomas  
Explore results of a study that show more than 90% of high school students use mobile phones for school work, but less than 74% think phones should be allowed in class.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: None.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Mobile learning
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: Teachers : Model digital age work and learning
Teachers : Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
Teachers : Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation


Digital tote resources

HoldthePhoneHighschoolstudents.pdf
Description: PowerPoint
http://iste2016phones.weebly.com/
Description: weebly with ppt and backchannel


Proposal summary

Framework

The mobile phone is perhaps the most divisive technology to enter the classroom in the last 25 years. When mobile phones first appeared in the classroom in the 1990s, they were perceived by teachers as classroom disruptors and banned by schools. In the ensuing decades, mobile phones have evolved and today can perform most of the tasks performed by a desktop computer—from anywhere. In 2012, UNESCO asserted that mobile devices—because of their ubiquity and portability—were positioned to influence teaching and learning in a way personal computers never did (p. 14). Today, 90% of American adults own a mobile phone (Pew Internet Research, 2014) and almost two-thirds are now smartphone owners (Lenhart, 2015). Seventy-eight percent of teens own a mobile phone (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortesi & Gasser, 2013), and nearly three-quarters have or have access to a smartphone (Lenhart, 2015). Access to mobile phones provides teachers and students with the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of mobile learning (M-learning) including:
(a) offering students multiple entry points and learning paths and allowing for differentiated learning, (b) enabling multiple modality via mobile devices by which students have a tool to create a different learning artifact to suit their needs, (c) supporting student improvisation in situ—student may improvise as needed within the context of learning (e.g., take pictures to illustrate learning connections), and (d) supporting learning creation on the move with an ease of creating and sharing artifacts. (Liu, Scordino, Renata, Navarrete, Yujung, & Lim, 2015, p. 356)
In addition to providing teachers and students with the benefits associated with mobile learning, the pervasiveness of mobile phones can assist schools in addressing both the traditional and new digital divide. Traditionally, low SES and minority students have had less access to technology than their more affluent, white classmates; however, research indicates that increasingly poor and minority individuals are reducing the traditional digital divide by accessing the Internet via their mobile phones (Lenhart, 2015). Furthermore, a new digital divide has emerged between the low levels of access schools have to technologies in comparison to students’ access to technologies. By allowing students to use personal mobile phones, schools can potentially reduce this divide.
The benefits associated with the use of mobile phones in the classroom have resulted in an increasing number of schools removing the long-standing ban on their use in the classroom and adopting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model for student use. However, the characteristics of mobile phones that initially created classroom distractions and disruptions, and prompted the majority of schools to ban their use in the classroom, still exist. For example, 72% of students indicated that their phones rang during class (Burns and Lohenry, 2010) and 85% of students admit to texting during class (McCoy, 2013). As schools move towards BYOD integration, school stakeholders must continue to weigh the benefits of integration of mobile phones against the potential cost. Students’ perceptions of integration and the benefits and barriers associated with mobile phones in the classroom should play a part in this cost/benefit analysis. Millennials have been characterized as a homogeneous group of technology users who prefer the type of learning provided by mobile devices—receiving information really fast, parallel processing and multi-tasking, graphics over text, random access (like hypertext) and to be networked (Prensky, 2001); however, while there is a growing body of research regarding the perceptions of millennials on the integration of mobile phones in the post-secondary classroom, there is a gap in the literature regarding high school students’ perceptions of the benefits and barriers associated with allowing phones in class.
Literature Review
Technology can have a positive influence on student learning, engagement, motivation, and productivity (Roblyer & Doering, 2010). Mobile phones are no exception; they have an abundance of instructional features that provide students with access to anywhere, anytime learning. The increased omnipresence of, and instructional features associated with mobile phones, has made mobile learning (“m-learning”) “one of the key current trends of educational applications for new technologies” (Wu, Wu, Chen, Kao, Lin, & Haung, 2012, p. 818).
Benefits to Using Mobile Phones in the Classroom.
The principle instructional benefit associated with mobile phones is their potential to engage students in m-learning. M-learning provides students the ability to engage in meaningful learning opportunities from anywhere (Traxler, 2009). Other benefits of m-learning provided by mobile phones and other mobile devices are their ability to allow teachers to personalize instruction (Steel, 2012), collaborate (Corbeil & Valdes-Corbeil, 2007), differentiate instruction (Kukulska-Hulme, 2007), and give students the opportunity to self-regulate learning (Sha, Looi, Chen, & Zhang, 2012). Mobile phones have also been linked to a number of instructional applications such as assessment and research as well as administrative tasks and data collection (Engel & Green, 2011).
Other benefits of mobile phones are the use of their features/functions, including access to the Internet, the ability to communicate through text messaging, and use of the digital camera and audio/video recorders. Lenhart (2015) found that 91% of teens go online occasionally from mobile devices; 25% of teens use their mobile phones as their primary means of accessing the Internet (Madden et al., 2013). This figure increases to 50% for those with smartphones. Additionally, students can use the Internet for classroom communication, collaboration, research, and individual and cooperative problem solving. Mobile phones can also be used to access online tools (e.g., Dropbox, Google Docs, and Today’s Meet) and apps (e.g., QR codes and Aurasma) for classroom use.
Mobile phones also allow text messages to be sent and received. Lenhart (2012) reported that “texting” is the number one means of communication by teenagers. Texting through mobile phones has the potential to support anywhere interaction; communication; collaboration among teachers, students, and content (Looi, Seow, Zhang, So, Chen, & Wong, 2010; Author, 2011). Another benefit of texting is the ability to improve student phonological awareness, vocabulary, and reading ability (Plester, Wood, & Joshi, 2009).
Digital camera features on mobile phones can be used for a number of classroom purposes including data collection, scientific visualization, and communication. Mobile phone cameras also have the potential to facilitate reading, writing, and visual communication in language arts and for mathematical analyses, transformations, and providing a context for problem solving (Bull & Thompson, 2004).
 Mobile phones are capable of recording audio and video. The use of mobile phones to create podcasts and/or vodcasts is a way to differentiate instruction by appealing to audio or visual learners. Student produced podcasts have the potential to improve motivation and higher-order thinking (Dlott, 2007); students’ reading, writing, and listening skills (Smythe & Neufeld, 2010); and ELL students’ language skills (Gromik, 2012).
 The application of mobile devices, like mobile phones, can result in improved learning for students. Liu et al. (2015) conducted a literature review of mobile learning in K-12 and found 13 of 63 studies employed experimental design to compare the effectiveness of mobile learning to traditional learning. Nine of the 13 (69%) studies showed a positive learning outcome for students receiving m-learning compared to their peers who received traditional instruction. Three of the 13 (23%) studies found no difference between m- and traditional learning.
Barriers to Using Mobile Phones in the Classroom
Despite all the benefits associated with mobile phone integration, barriers do exist. Historically, the most common complaint against the use of mobile phones in the classroom has been the disruption they cause (Lenhart, Ling, Campbell, & Purcell, 2010). Research also indicates that their integration into the classroom can create a disturbance (Baker, Lusk, & Neuhauser, 2012). For example, Burns and Lohenry (2010) reported that 72% of students indicated that their phones rang during class. Instruction can be disrupted by ringing phones and students distracted by texting. Shelton, Elliott, Lynn and Exner (2011) examined the impact of ringing phones in the classroom and concluded that the interruptions could negatively impact student performance. McCoy (2013) conducted a study with 777 college students and found that 80% of the students believed that mobile devices kept them from learning—including mobile phones. Levine, Waite, Bowman (2013) found that mobile phone use while completing another task decreases learning and task completion. In support of this finding, a 2015 study by Breland and Murphy found that banning phones in four schools in England resulted in an increase in standardized test scores. Results indicated that low-achieving students were more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones than high-achieving students. Rosen, Lim, Carrier, and Cheever (2011) explored the effect of texting during instruction. Results indicated that academic performance was lowered when students texted during instruction. Another concern is the effect of “textese,” the abbreviations and slang associated with texting, on students’ written language skills. Research in this area has been mixed. Coe and Oakhill (2011) examined the effect of student use of textese and literacy and found a positive relationship, whereas others (Cingel & Sundar, 2012; DeJonge & Kemp, 2012; Drouin & Driver, 2014) determined that texting negatively affects students’ reading, writing, and spelling skills. Drouin and Driver attribute these differences to a number of factors, including contradictions caused by sampling and methodologies. In studies with children, a positive relationship between texting and literacy has been found; conversely, studies with adults have found texting negatively affects literacy. Drouin and Driver posit that this may be a result of adults being lazy in their writing. Another potential factor is the arrival of predictive texting; predictive texting auto-corrects misspelled words and has greatly reduced the use of textese.
School stakeholders are also concerned about students’ use of mobile phones for cheating, sexting, and cyberbullying. Studies by CommonSense Media (2010) and McAfee (2012) confirmed that students use their mobile phones to cheat. In a study by Tindell and Bohlander (2011), 76% of the students believed that mobile phones can potentially give students an unfair advantage during exams. Sexting, the practice of sending sexually explicit photos and/or messages via a mobile phone, is another inappropriate use of mobile phones by teens. Strassberg, McKinnon, Sustaíta, and Rullo (2013) found in a study of 606 high school students that almost 20% of all participants had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves from their mobile phone and almost 40% reported receiving a sexually explicit picture. Additionally, 25% indicated that they had forwarded these pictures to others. Mobile phones can also be used for cyberbullying, bullying that takes place through the use of digital technology. Holfeld and Grabe (2012) conducted a study with 665 middle school students and found that perpetrators used their mobile phones to bully others in 41% of the occurrences.

Methods

The mobile phone is perhaps the most divisive technology to enter the classroom in the last 25 years. When mobile phones first appeared in the classroom in the 1990s, they were perceived by teachers as classroom disruptors and banned by schools. In the ensuing decades, mobile phones have evolved and today can perform most of the tasks performed by a desktop computer—from anywhere. In 2012, UNESCO asserted that mobile devices—because of their ubiquity and portability—were positioned to influence teaching and learning in a way personal computers never did (p. 14). Today, 90% of American adults own a mobile phone (Pew Internet Research, 2014) and almost two-thirds are now smartphone owners (Lenhart, 2015). Seventy-eight percent of teens own a mobile phone (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortesi & Gasser, 2013), and nearly three-quarters have or have access to a smartphone (Lenhart, 2015). Access to mobile phones provides teachers and students with the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of mobile learning (M-learning) including:
(a) offering students multiple entry points and learning paths and allowing for differentiated learning, (b) enabling multiple modality via mobile devices by which students have a tool to create a different learning artifact to suit their needs, (c) supporting student improvisation in situ—student may improvise as needed within the context of learning (e.g., take pictures to illustrate learning connections), and (d) supporting learning creation on the move with an ease of creating and sharing artifacts. (Liu, Scordino, Renata, Navarrete, Yujung, & Lim, 2015, p. 356)
In addition to providing teachers and students with the benefits associated with mobile learning, the pervasiveness of mobile phones can assist schools in addressing both the traditional and new digital divide. Traditionally, low SES and minority students have had less access to technology than their more affluent, white classmates; however, research indicates that increasingly poor and minority individuals are reducing the traditional digital divide by accessing the Internet via their mobile phones (Lenhart, 2015). Furthermore, a new digital divide has emerged between the low levels of access schools have to technologies in comparison to students’ access to technologies. By allowing students to use personal mobile phones, schools can potentially reduce this divide.
The benefits associated with the use of mobile phones in the classroom have resulted in an increasing number of schools removing the long-standing ban on their use in the classroom and adopting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model for student use. However, the characteristics of mobile phones that initially created classroom distractions and disruptions, and prompted the majority of schools to ban their use in the classroom, still exist. For example, 72% of students indicated that their phones rang during class (Burns and Lohenry, 2010) and 85% of students admit to texting during class (McCoy, 2013). As schools move towards BYOD integration, school stakeholders must continue to weigh the benefits of integration of mobile phones against the potential cost. Students’ perceptions of integration and the benefits and barriers associated with mobile phones in the classroom should play a part in this cost/benefit analysis. Millennials have been characterized as a homogeneous group of technology users who prefer the type of learning provided by mobile devices—receiving information really fast, parallel processing and multi-tasking, graphics over text, random access (like hypertext) and to be networked (Prensky, 2001); however, while there is a growing body of research regarding the perceptions of millennials on the integration of mobile phones in the post-secondary classroom, there is a gap in the literature regarding high school students’ perceptions of the benefits and barriers associated with allowing phones in class.
Literature Review
Technology can have a positive influence on student learning, engagement, motivation, and productivity (Roblyer & Doering, 2010). Mobile phones are no exception; they have an abundance of instructional features that provide students with access to anywhere, anytime learning. The increased omnipresence of, and instructional features associated with mobile phones, has made mobile learning (“m-learning”) “one of the key current trends of educational applications for new technologies” (Wu, Wu, Chen, Kao, Lin, & Haung, 2012, p. 818).
Benefits to Using Mobile Phones in the Classroom.
The principle instructional benefit associated with mobile phones is their potential to engage students in m-learning. M-learning provides students the ability to engage in meaningful learning opportunities from anywhere (Traxler, 2009). Other benefits of m-learning provided by mobile phones and other mobile devices are their ability to allow teachers to personalize instruction (Steel, 2012), collaborate (Corbeil & Valdes-Corbeil, 2007), differentiate instruction (Kukulska-Hulme, 2007), and give students the opportunity to self-regulate learning (Sha, Looi, Chen, & Zhang, 2012). Mobile phones have also been linked to a number of instructional applications such as assessment and research as well as administrative tasks and data collection (Engel & Green, 2011).
Other benefits of mobile phones are the use of their features/functions, including access to the Internet, the ability to communicate through text messaging, and use of the digital camera and audio/video recorders. Lenhart (2015) found that 91% of teens go online occasionally from mobile devices; 25% of teens use their mobile phones as their primary means of accessing the Internet (Madden et al., 2013). This figure increases to 50% for those with smartphones. Additionally, students can use the Internet for classroom communication, collaboration, research, and individual and cooperative problem solving. Mobile phones can also be used to access online tools (e.g., Dropbox, Google Docs, and Today’s Meet) and apps (e.g., QR codes and Aurasma) for classroom use.
Mobile phones also allow text messages to be sent and received. Lenhart (2012) reported that “texting” is the number one means of communication by teenagers. Texting through mobile phones has the potential to support anywhere interaction; communication; collaboration among teachers, students, and content (Looi, Seow, Zhang, So, Chen, & Wong, 2010; Author, 2011). Another benefit of texting is the ability to improve student phonological awareness, vocabulary, and reading ability (Plester, Wood, & Joshi, 2009).
Digital camera features on mobile phones can be used for a number of classroom purposes including data collection, scientific visualization, and communication. Mobile phone cameras also have the potential to facilitate reading, writing, and visual communication in language arts and for mathematical analyses, transformations, and providing a context for problem solving (Bull & Thompson, 2004).
 Mobile phones are capable of recording audio and video. The use of mobile phones to create podcasts and/or vodcasts is a way to differentiate instruction by appealing to audio or visual learners. Student produced podcasts have the potential to improve motivation and higher-order thinking (Dlott, 2007); students’ reading, writing, and listening skills (Smythe & Neufeld, 2010); and ELL students’ language skills (Gromik, 2012).
 The application of mobile devices, like mobile phones, can result in improved learning for students. Liu et al. (2015) conducted a literature review of mobile learning in K-12 and found 13 of 63 studies employed experimental design to compare the effectiveness of mobile learning to traditional learning. Nine of the 13 (69%) studies showed a positive learning outcome for students receiving m-learning compared to their peers who received traditional instruction. Three of the 13 (23%) studies found no difference between m- and traditional learning.
Barriers to Using Mobile Phones in the Classroom
Despite all the benefits associated with mobile phone integration, barriers do exist. Historically, the most common complaint against the use of mobile phones in the classroom has been the disruption they cause (Lenhart, Ling, Campbell, & Purcell, 2010). Research also indicates that their integration into the classroom can create a disturbance (Baker, Lusk, & Neuhauser, 2012). For example, Burns and Lohenry (2010) reported that 72% of students indicated that their phones rang during class. Instruction can be disrupted by ringing phones and students distracted by texting. Shelton, Elliott, Lynn and Exner (2011) examined the impact of ringing phones in the classroom and concluded that the interruptions could negatively impact student performance. McCoy (2013) conducted a study with 777 college students and found that 80% of the students believed that mobile devices kept them from learning—including mobile phones. Levine, Waite, Bowman (2013) found that mobile phone use while completing another task decreases learning and task completion. In support of this finding, a 2015 study by Breland and Murphy found that banning phones in four schools in England resulted in an increase in standardized test scores. Results indicated that low-achieving students were more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones than high-achieving students. Rosen, Lim, Carrier, and Cheever (2011) explored the effect of texting during instruction. Results indicated that academic performance was lowered when students texted during instruction. Another concern is the effect of “textese,” the abbreviations and slang associated with texting, on students’ written language skills. Research in this area has been mixed. Coe and Oakhill (2011) examined the effect of student use of textese and literacy and found a positive relationship, whereas others (Cingel & Sundar, 2012; DeJonge & Kemp, 2012; Drouin & Driver, 2014) determined that texting negatively affects students’ reading, writing, and spelling skills. Drouin and Driver attribute these differences to a number of factors, including contradictions caused by sampling and methodologies. In studies with children, a positive relationship between texting and literacy has been found; conversely, studies with adults have found texting negatively affects literacy. Drouin and Driver posit that this may be a result of adults being lazy in their writing. Another potential factor is the arrival of predictive texting; predictive texting auto-corrects misspelled words and has greatly reduced the use of textese.
School stakeholders are also concerned about students’ use of mobile phones for cheating, sexting, and cyberbullying. Studies by CommonSense Media (2010) and McAfee (2012) confirmed that students use their mobile phones to cheat. In a study by Tindell and Bohlander (2011), 76% of the students believed that mobile phones can potentially give students an unfair advantage during exams. Sexting, the practice of sending sexually explicit photos and/or messages via a mobile phone, is another inappropriate use of mobile phones by teens. Strassberg, McKinnon, Sustaíta, and Rullo (2013) found in a study of 606 high school students that almost 20% of all participants had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves from their mobile phone and almost 40% reported receiving a sexually explicit picture. Additionally, 25% indicated that they had forwarded these pictures to others. Mobile phones can also be used for cyberbullying, bullying that takes place through the use of digital technology. Holfeld and Grabe (2012) conducted a study with 665 middle school students and found that perpetrators used their mobile phones to bully others in 41% of the occurrences.

Results

ResultsThe participating high school students reported that they were fairly experienced users of technology. Using a 5-point scale (1 = novice, 5 = expert), students rated high their expertise with technology (M = 4.24, SD = .82).
Support for the Use of Mobile Phones in the Classroom
Using a 4-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 4 = strongly agree), the participants were asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I support the use of mobile phones in the classroom.” Results for the participating students revealed high levels of agreement (M = 3.69, SD = .55). Students were also asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I think mobile phones support student learning.” The students’ results indicate high levels of agreement with this statement (M = 3.53, SD = .66).
Use of Mobile Phone Features for School-Related Work
Overall, 90.7% of the students reported the use of mobile phones for school-related work. Using a dichotomous scale (yes, no), the participants were asked about the features of mobile phones that they use for school-related work (apart from making/receiving phone calls). Students reported that they used the following features the most: (a) calculator (91.4%); (b) access the Internet (91.0%); (c) calendar (84.1%); (d) clock, timer (80.1%); (e) use educational apps (74.0%); (f) play music (71.6%); (g) send/receive texts (70.0%); (h) watch video (63.5%); (i) app download (60.9%); and (j) e-mail (60.3%). Additional features identified by students as useful, but below 60% and above 50% were: (a) take pictures (59.7%); (b) play game (54.6%); and, (c) social networking (53.5%). Features below 50% were: (a) record video (46.2%); (b) post pictures on-line (42.0%); (c) create survey (41.5%); (d) record audio (41.0%); (e) tweet (38.4%); (f) post video on-line (33.9%); (g) scan QR codes (33.5%); (h) post audio online (30.5%); (i) play a podcast (28.5%); and, (j) create QR codes (24.6%). Table 1 shows the use of mobile phones for school-related work.
[Table 1 goes about here]
Barriers to Mobile Phone Use in the Classroom
 Using a dichotomous scale (yes, no), participants indicated how they perceived (a) texting, (b) phone ringing, (c) cheating, (d) cyberbullying, (e) general disruption of class, (f) negative impact of texting on writing, (g) sexting, and (h) access to inappropriate content to be barriers to using mobile phones in the classroom.
The students’ responses revealed that they perceive the highest barrier to integration to be the ringing of mobile phones in the classroom (54.0%). The remaining items associated with the concept of barriers for mobile phones use in the classroom were below 50%, namely (a) cheating (40.0%); (b) disruption of class (39.3%); (c) cyberbullying (36.5%); (d) access to inappropriate information on the Internet (34.2%); (e) sexting (27.9%); and, (f) negative impact of texting on student writing (23.4%). Table 2 shows the data on barriers to mobile phone use in the classroom.
[Table 2 goes about here]
Benefits to Mobile Phone Use in the Classroom
Using a dichotomous scale (yes, no), participants indicated how they perceived that student (a) engagement, (b) motivation for attendance, (c) motivation for learning, (d) creativity, (e) productivity, (f) reducing the digital gap, (g) collaboration, (h) communication, (i) digital fluency, (j) providing learning opportunities, and (k) differentiation of instruction were benefits to using mobile phones in the classroom.
The students’ responses reveal that they perceive all to be benefits; however, they were most excited about the benefits associated with (a) reducing the digital gap (89.2%); (b) providing learning opportunities (88.2%); (c) increasing digital fluency (88.0%); (d) creativity (82.1%); (e) differentiation of instruction (82.1%); and, (f) increasing productivity (81.3%). Other benefits of using mobile phones in the classroom include (a) student motivation for learning (79.0%); (b) increasing communication (78.8%); (c) student motivation for attendance (76.7%); (d) increase collaboration (75.6%); and, (e) increase student engagement (70.4%). Table 3 shows the data on benefits to mobile phone use in the classroom.
[Table 3 goes about here]

Importance

Discussion
Due to the multitude of technological features they possess, mobile phones are often compared to a Swiss Army Knife. Mobile phones might also be compared to a double-edged sword because these same technological features provide both benefits and barriers to integration in the classroom. This dichotomy was not lost on the high school students who participated in this study. Nine out of 10 indicated that they used their mobile phones for school work; however, when asked if phones should be allowed in the classroom, the number dropped to 7 out of 10. Likewise, only 7 out of 10 of the participating students felt that mobile phones supported learning. Why the disparity? Students’ perceptions of the benefits of mobile phones, the features they used and the barriers they identified provide insight.
Perceived Benefits to Mobile Phone Use in the Classroom
Based on the high percentage of participants reporting the use of their phones for school work, mobile phones are beneficial to students. The primary benefit students identified was the potential of mobile phones to reduce the digital divide and in so doing provide learning opportunities while improving digital fluency. Research supports participating students’ perceptions. By allowing mobile phones in the classroom, schools can potentially reduce the traditional digital divide that exists for poor and minority students. Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that an increasing number of low socio-economic and minority groups primarily access the Internet on their mobile phones (Lenhart, 2015). Furthermore, the pervasiveness of mobile phones—100% of the students indicated that they owned a mobile phone and 91% owned a smart phone -creates the potential to reduce the digital divide that exists between schools and students. By allowing students to bring personal computing devices like smart phones into the classroom, schools can achieve a previously unattainable level of technological integration.
Use of Mobile Phone Features for School-Related Work
Based on the wide variety of features that students in this study indicated using for school work, the mobile phone lived up to its nickname as the “Swiss Army Knife” of technologies. In fact, the majority of students indicated that they used for school work 12 of the 20 features listed in the questionnaire. A closer look at these features reveals students’ preference for basic technologies like the calculator, Internet, calendar and clock/timer over more advanced technologies that required students to create content (e. g., surveys, audio/video, QR codes) and post content online.
In support of this finding, research confirms that despite being referred to as “digital natives” today’s students often prefer basic, core technologies (e.g., the Internet) over more advanced, specialized technologies (e.g., recording audio) (Lei, 2009; Kennedy, Judd, Churchward, Gray and Krause, 2008; Bennett, Maton and Kervin, 2008). In addition to their own preference, students’ selection of mobile phone features for school-related use was most likely impacted by the technologies used in class by their teachers. A 2014 survey (Author) of 1,121 middle and high school teachers found that the mobile phone features teachers believed were most beneficial to classroom use were the ability to: access the Internet, use educational apps, use the calculator, use the calendar, play a podcast and use the clock/alarm/timer. Interestingly, these are 5 of the top 6 features identified by students in this study. Ertmer and Otterbein- Leftwich (2010) assert that teachers are continuing to use what they refer to as “low level” applications of technologies (e.g., conducting research on the Internet) to support their existing practice, as opposed to utilizing the tools provided by technology to engage students in the development of 21st Century skills such as creating. Teachers’ use of these features most certainly would impact students’ use of mobile phone features for classwork.
Perceived Barriers to Mobile Phone Use in the Classroom
Despite the benefits identified with using their phones for school work, students indicated they had serious concerns about their integration into the classroom. In fact, 30% of students felt the negative impact on the classroom was sufficient enough to warrant banning them. Students were most concerned about ringing phones in the classroom. Research on barriers to mobile phone integration supports the concerns of students in this study. Burns and Lohenry (2010) found 72% of students reported their mobile phones rang during class. Ringing phones disrupt the classroom. Like teachers, who have traditionally opposed mobile devices in the classroom due to their disruptive nature (Lenhart et al., 2010), participating students also were concerned about the disruptive nature of mobile phones. Baker et al. found that any use of mobile phones was disruptive to learning. Additionally, Shelton et al. (2011) found the classroom distractions caused by mobile phones negatively impact student performance. This could explain why almost a third of the participating students did not feel that mobile phones support learning.
Secondary to ringing mobile phones, students were concerned about the use of mobile phones to cheat. One way mobile phones can be used to cheat is by allowing students to take pictures of test questions to share with students who may be taking the test in a later class, giving the recipient an unfair advantage. Again, research supports students’ concerns about using mobile phones to cheat. Whereas 40% of students in this study were concerned about the use of devices to cheat, a 2009 study by CommonSense Media found that 35% of students admitting using their mobile phones for this purpose. Likewise, students in a 2011 study expressed concern that mobile phones can potentially give students an unfair advantage during exams (Tindell & Bohlander).
Students’ concerns went beyond the negative impact mobile phones can have in the classroom and included the potential use of mobile phones for harmful activities like cyberbullying and sexting. Students’ fears about the use of mobile phones for cyberbullying and sexting are troubling since they could indicate knowledge of these activities occurring in school. In regard to cyberbullying, the percentage of participants expressing concern (39%) almost mirrored the percentage of students (41%) who reported being cyberbullied in a study by Holfeld and Grabe (2012). Whereas, 27% of participants in this study identified sexting as a barrier compared to 18% of students who reported sending sext messages in a study conducted by Strassberg, McKinnon, Sustaíta, and Rullo (2013).
Limitations of the Study
While this study addresses a gap in the literature on high school students’ perceptions of mobile phones in the classroom and contributes to our overall understanding of the classroom integration of these devices, there are limitations characteristic to the methods used. One limitation is the survey. Although the survey was developed in alignment with the literature on mobile phones and content validity was established, the instrument was not tested for reliability. Additionally, survey results are limited due to their reliance on self-report data; as a result, answers by participants may not be truthful or accurate; furthermore, no method exists for verifying their answers.
The ability to generalize the findings is limited by the population of the study. The sample of students is small and was selected from only one state. A larger population from different states or regions of the U.S. could render differing perceptions.
These limitations necessitate further research. Additional research should include a larger, random sampling from many states/regions to provide more generalized results.
Implications for Practice
Historically, classroom teachers have opposed mobile phones in the classroom. However, the increased functionality and ubiquity of mobile devices and the benefits they afford teachers and students have many schools reconsidering the ban on mobile phones and considering a BYOD model of integration. Unfortunately, there has been a gap in the literature regarding student’s perceptions of the benefits and barriers to integration. This study gives a voice to students regarding this traditionally divisive topic. On the topic of use of mobile phones for school work, students have spoken loud and clear—almost all are using their phones for school work. This is great news for schools since the functionality and ubiquity of mobile phones provides schools, teachers and students with access to technology for classroom use. Based on student feedback about the features they are (and are not) using, schools and teachers should continue to explore ways to utilize all of the instructional features of mobile phones to support the development of digital fluencies and 21st century skills.
Despite using mobile phones for school work, almost a third of the students expressed very serious concerns about the integration of mobile phones in the classroom and their ability to support learning. As students noted, mobile phones can disrupt the classroom and be used for inappropriate purposes. To address these issues, schools must develop clear classroom policy on appropriate mobile phones use and consequences for their misuse. These policies must be communicated to all school stakeholders. However, the ability of schools to completely eliminate the problems associated with mobile phone integration is unrealistic; therefore, school stakeholders must carefully consider the benefits and barriers identified by students in determining policy regarding mobile phone integration in the classroom.
Recommendations for Future Research
Teacher use of technology in the classroom can have a significant impact on students’ perceptions. In order to fully embrace a technology, students’ interest must surpass the novelty of a technology; in order to accomplish this, teachers must integrate the technology in a way that students clearly understand how it supports their learning (Davies, 2011). Additionally research should be conducted to understand how the teachers are utilizing mobile phones in their classrooms. Additionally, additional research should be conducted for understand how schools and teachers are addressing the negative consequences (e.g., ringing phones, cheating, etc.) that accompany allowing mobile phones in the classroom. Finally, students in the study indicated concerns about the use of mobile phones for cheating, cyberbullying and sexting. Additional research should be conducted to understand the degree to which secondary school students are using their phones to engage in these behaviors.
Conclusion
The purpose of this study was to measure student support use of mobile phones in classrooms. The students were among the population of 10 high schools who had recently adopted a policy allowing the use of mobile devices, including mobile phones, in the classroom. This study examined the use of mobile phones for school work and the perception of benefits and barriers to mobile phone integration in the classroom. The results indicated that the vast majority of students (90.7%) were using their mobile phones for school-related work. Students reported the most beneficial features for school work were the calculator, the ability to access the Internet, the calendar and the timer feature on mobile phones. However, students’ support of classroom integration of mobile phones was not t universal. When asked if they supported the use of mobile phones in the classroom, the number of students dropped to 73.8%. Even less of the students (70.6%) believed that mobile phones supported learning. These findings give high school students a voice on the often controversial topic of mobile phone integration into the classroom and can assist school stakeholders in development of policy on mobile phones usage in the classroom.

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Presenters

favorites Dr. Kevin Thomas, Bellarmine University